Crawford County, Pennsylvania
"HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNSHIPS OF CRAWFORD COUNTY."
Athens Township was organized in 1831. Its area is seventeen thousand one hundred and thirteen acres. The surface presents an agreeable contrast of hill and valley. The soil is fertile, well watered, and intelligently cultivated. The people engage in farming and lumbering. It is said that a man named Smith moved into the township before 1800, and, alone as Selkirk upon the Pacific island, passed years in the retreats of the forest. His occasional visitors were hunting parties of Indians; his surroundings were truly a wild and howling wilderness. Occasionally he was seen at Franklin for supplies, and departed with them packed upon the backs of horses. When the later settlements began, Smith had disappeared, and his fate is unknown; his horses were probably the prey of the wolves, himself a victim to Indian ferocity. The site of his improvement was the Taylor farm, and when the doctor took possession the ruins of the old settler,'s cabin were still to be seen. He found a pleasure in the pathless woods and society where none intruded, and, in his voluntary hermitage, became in truth the pioneer of Athens settlement.
Among those who effected permanent settlements in the township we record the names of Dr. Silas Taylor, William King, Elisha Root, Jonah Edson, Abraham Wheeler, and John Shawburger. The protracted struggle with the forces of nature has resulted in a victory to the laborer, and the quiet of Athens is unbroken by aught save the sounds of patient and well-directed husbandry. To one accustomed to the fine roads of to-day, the want of avenues of travel is unknown; but the construction of the State road was at once a great labor and a correspondent advantage. To complete this route, the settlers, led by Dr. Taylor and old John Brown, the hero of Ossawatomie, gave their labor, and, in time, the road was cleared, the creeks bridged, the swamps made passable, and the hillside leveled. The early settler, freed from fear of the Indians, still had a task in subduing the wilderness, sufficiently formidable as not to incur the danger of losing their labor by defective land-titles, hence differences of surveys caused those who would have settled in Athens to seek a home and secure titles elsewhere. In time the mooted surveys were settled, controversy ceased, population quietly moved in, and the township was fairly occupied. The township is almost exclusively agricultural. Little Cooley is a pleasant village on Muddy Creek, in the western part of the township on the line of the proposed railroad. The first improvement on the village site was made by Isaac A. Cummings as late as 1848, and years elapsed before another house save his was built in that place. A man named Drake is reputed the first tavern-keeper. The United Brethren have a fine church in Little Cooley. Built by the contributions of all denominations, its doors are shut to none. A leading interest in the township is the cheese-box factory and planing-mill of Wright & Harter; some two hundred boxes are turned off daily. Little Cooley has a hotel, a grist-mill, and several stores. The township had, in 1870, a population of 1317, of whom 1290 were native, and all white. Illustrative of concern in the subject of education, we add the tabular statement regarding schools for the year ending June 1, 1874. Number of schools, 10; average months taught, 5; teachers employed, 22; average salaries of males, $44.58; females, $33.07. Of scholars there were of males 230, females 210; total, 440. Average attendance, 286; percentage of attendance, 65; and the amount expended for school purposes, $2842.65.
1. Combination Atlas Map of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Compiled, Drawn and Published From Personal Examinations and Surveys (Philadephia: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1876), 24¼.